Friday, 2 September 2011

The Three Peaks of Yorkshire

One of my minor life ambitions - not as big as owning a seaplane, but bigger than wanting to go up Duns Law - has been the Three Peaks of Yorkshire. This is a big day's walk - roughly 25 route-dependent miles and 5,000ft of ascent, but is within the grasp of most fit people, given good weather and comfy shoes. It is easier than the 'national' Three Peaks of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, but remains a solid challenge. 12 hours is the generally accepted target. The record is a barely believeable 2hrs 30 mins. The usual route goes widdershins from Horton-in-Ribblesdale up Pen-y-Ghent (694m), Whernside (736m) and Ingleborough (723m) before returning to the start point. It was supposed to happen last year: but injury intervened.

Rainbow sunrise at Horton:


We woke at 6am on the day of the walk after a disturbed sleep: a noisy group had been up till 1am and there had been thunder and lightning overnight. The weather could scupper our walk!

Ascending Pen-y-Ghent:


The rain came on again near the first top, Pen-y-Ghent, but it was just a passing shower: the big surprise were the crowds around us all the way. This is a sociable walk on a holiday weekend. Perhaps a start at Ribblehead Viaduct would be less crowded?

Crowds descending Pen-y-Ghent:


A young Londoner called Simon collared us, he had lost his group and wondered if he was going the wrong way. We introduced ourselves: "Craig," "David," "Cameron," and I immediately sang: "Reduced the deficit on Monday, screwed the country on Tuesday." He decided soon after to go a different direction to try to find his pals.

Craig David Cameron on the second summit, Whernside:


After a long drag across a moor and the road, Ribblehead Viaduct is reached, an engineering wonder in a bleak landscape. We followed the right of way up Whernside rather than go direct. Whernside is the least inspiring of the trio, but is the highest point in Yorkshire and has the best views - the Irish Sea and Lake District are close, Whernside being on the border between Yorkshire and Cumbria. Except for a few boggy sections after Pen-y-Ghent almost the entire route is paved, so bear that in mind if you have new boots!

Ingleborough from Whernside:


Cameron had tried but failed the three peaks before due to blisters, but by the final drag up Ingleborough it was clear we were going to make it. We traversed through areas of limestone pavement and potholes (this is the best place in Britain for caves), talking to the other people on the walk. In fact it was all the people we met who were probably the highlight of the walk. A girl with a carrier bag tied to her rucksack, banging off her thigh with each step... a group from the south of England who had first met on a holiday in Ecuador... a German and a Yorkshireman, both red haired... almost everyone - except a local in jeans carrying a donkey jacket - were doing the 'three peaks'. The last top was cold, dull and extremely windy, so we did not hang about: there was a pint with our name on it in the Crown Inn in Horton!

Pen-y-Ghent from Ingleborough descent:


One of the extra things you can do on this walk is clock out and in at the village cafe: do this, and you are entitled to purchase a tie and badge commemorating your walk. But the memories are the main thing and, like the dozens of others we met on the walk and afterwards in the pub, we were satisfied with the day's efforts.

1 comment:

blueskyscotland said...

Great country down there.Always wanted to do the three peaks as they look good.Only time I,ve been there was camping in Horton in November with ice inside and outside the tent.Went caving as arranged with some locals down Long Churn and Alum Pot.Maybe next time I,ll do the hills though not all at once.Enjoyed my virtual tour as I,m not knackered at all.
Thank you:)